Passport mishap: one French wedding and a panic

I misplace the priceless document the day before my flight to attend a wedding in France, resulting in nerve-racking days and a hit to my wallet. And I’m one of the lucky ones

The passport processing office in Balbriggan, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The passport processing office in Balbriggan, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 01:00

The woman behind the glass is more adept at avoiding eye contact than a Dublin City Council clamper.

“You’re not leaving the country today,” she says, eyes fixed on computer. “There’s nothing we can do. The earliest you’re looking at is next Wednesday.”

“No. The wedding is this Saturday and I’m a bridesmaid.”

Passport missing the night before the flight you really weren’t meant to miss. Sound familiar? One sleepless night and a ransacked apartment later, it’s 8.45am and I’m in the queue outside the passport office on Dublin’s Molesworth Street.

Suitcase in tow, I am under the impression that I stand a chance of making the 1pm flight to Bordeaux. What a laugh.

But a spark of hope flickers early on. At reception, a sympathetic woman tells me to come back with a ticked-off checklist: completed application form, birth cert, photographs signed by a garda. After a taxi dash around Dublin (€25 for a copy of birth cert ready in 10 minutes from Joyce House on Lombard Street East), I’m back. And it’s only 11am. Hold the doors, Aer Lingus.

Except it doesn’t work that way. Turns out a wedding is not an emergency, since it is (usually) neither unexpected, unpredictable nor a personal tragedy. And the fact that I have no picture ID – having been the victim of a handbag theft – is a real conversation killer.


Hopeless and powerless

So here I stand, hopeless and powerless at the counter, being asked, “When was the wedding booked?” And “why didn’t you check earlier if the passport was in its usual place?”

Finally, a supervisor agrees to speak to me in a private booth. After some more frantic excavation at home, I return to him with the wedding invitation and the only official ID I have, a relic of a 2009 stint as an intern. With the handover of €150 (the cost for a passport in less than five days) I’m “in the system” and assured, with a smile, that I will make it to the wedding.

Meanwhile, a mother is sounding off about the non-arrival of her toddler’s passport, needed for a holiday to Florida in three weeks. And a man is explaining that his cousin in England has lost track of hers on the online tracking system. No, she has no urgent travel plans. It’s just in case, you know?

By now, my flight has left for sunny France. Another takes off the next morning with half my family on board, while I’m gearing up for a day in the waiting room, with only my suitcase for company.

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